When it comes down to medal count, Penn rowing certainly did not miss the boat.
This past weekend at the Head of the Schuylkill Regatta, the Quakers' lightweight crew picked up a silver and a bronze, the heavyweight squad took home two golds and silvers while the women's team also commanded three golds and four silvers in the local meet.
In the early hours of Saturday morning, the lightweights had five of the 19 total boats competing in the Men’s Championship Pair and finished in third, fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh places, displaying remarkable consistency across the board.
In the Championship Fours, the lightweight team narrowly came in second, only 4.38 seconds behind the gold-medal winners. Luckily, the victors in this race were none other than the Penn heavyweight team, with sophomore Torin DiSalvo taking control in the stroke seat.
The heavyweights secured their second gold in the Club Eights race, where they bested Delaware by over 13 seconds. This effort was led by junior Daniel Kennedy-Moore in the stroke seat and under the direction of sophomore coxswain Emma Brown.
In the Men’s Championship Heavy Eights Final, the Red and Blue placed second. However, Penn was the top collegiate team in the field, as the gold went to perennial powerhouse Vesper Boat Club. The last medal for the heavies belonged to the Freshmen Eight, who fell within five seconds of the winning Princeton boat.
The most impressive performances of the regatta belonged to Penn's women, who dominated on every level, with golds in the Championship Fours, Club Eights and the Novice Fours, as well as silvers in the Championship Fours, the Club Eights, Championship Eights and the Novice Eights.
In the Club Eights, the Quakers finished first and second, with only four seconds between them, while the next boat to finish was a full 25 seconds behind the runners-up. Following this trend, in the Women’s Championship Fours, Penn once again took the top two spots, claiming the only times under 16 minutes for the competition.
The Red and Blue's boat in the Novice Fours demolished the competitors, with a resounding 47-second victory over second-place Temple. In the Championship Eights, Penn captured silver, with its other two boats placing eighth and 15th out of the 19 total. In the Novice Eights, the Quakers came within a single second of first-place Connecticut of the 44 boats in the field.
Leading the women’s team to this unprecedented success in only its second regatta is first-year coach Wesley Ng, formerly of Trinity. Coming back from an arduous Head of the Charles Regatta — where only one of the three Penn boats had a top-10 finish — Ng gave his take on the triumphant weekend.
“We had a really clear target at the beginning of the week coming out of the Head of the Charles that we wanted to have a great team performance across the board, and it meant that every boat in each event had to do their absolute best," he said.
“Seeing the Novice Four, Championship Four and Club Eight all come back with gold medals was good, but the fact that our second crews in those [last two] events came back with silvers medals was even better.”
Ng is not a newcomer to success, as he guided his Trinity to the NCAA title in 2014. For his efforts that year, he was consequently named the Collegiate Rowing Coaches Association Division III Coach of the Year and the ECAC Coach of the Year.
Discussing his transition from Trinity to the Ivy League, Ng explained his approach as “trying to get the most out of what we’re doing here at Penn.
“The situations are very different, but the challenge of combining academics and athletics and doing it in a really positive way is pretty challenging, so that’s what we’re really trying to do," Ng said. "I think that my approach at Trinity was to be very data-driven, methodical and process-oriented, and that’s something I’m trying to impress upon our athletes.
"It doesn’t have to be a turbulent experience, it can be one that is pretty consistent and exciting to see progress."
Looking forward to the future, the new coach has set lofty aims for the team and himself based on their current dominance on the Schuylkill last weekend.
“Certainly, the overarching goal is to earn our way to the NCAA National Championships and qualifying Penn for the first time to do that. That will be the goal every year,” Ng said. “And the goal after that will be to try to place as high as we possibly can within that.”
So, rounding out an exciting weekend for Penn rowing, this just might be the year that the hardware starts to pile up.
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